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* german: Leopold Ludwig Philipp Maria Viktor , house =
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (german: Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha), or Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (), was an Ernestine duchies, Ernestine, Thuringian states, Thuringian duchy ruled by a branch of the House of Wettin, consisting of territories in the present-day s ...

Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
, father =
Leopold I of Belgium * nl, Leopold Joris Christiaan Frederik * en, Leopold George Christian Frederick , image = File:1840 portrait of King Leopold I (King of the Belgians) by Winterhalter.jpg , caption = 1840 portrait of King Leopold I by Winterhalte ...

Leopold I of Belgium
, mother =
Louise of Orléans ''Louise'' Marie Thérèse Charlotte Isabelle of Orléans (Louise-Marie Thérèse Charlotte Isabelle; 3 April 1812 – 11 October 1850) was the first Queen of the Belgians as the second wife of King Leopold I. She rarely participated in publ ...

Louise of Orléans
, birth_date = , birth_place =
Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=no, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; nl, link=no, Brusse ...

Brussels
, Belgium , death_date = , death_place =
Laeken Laeken () or Laken () is a residential suburb in the north-western part of the Brussels-Capital Region Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the Eng ...
, Brussels, Belgium , burial_place =
Church of Our Lady of Laeken nl, Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk van Laken , native_name_lang = , image = Bxl, Eglise Notre-Dame de Laeken-2.jpg , imagesize = 220px , imagelink = , imagealt = , caption ...

Church of Our Lady of Laeken
, religion =
Roman Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...
Leopold II (french: Léopold Louis Philippe Marie Victor; 9 April 1835 – 17 December 1909) was the second
King of the Belgians Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, ...
from 1865 to 1909 and, through his own efforts, the owner and absolute ruler of the
Congo Free State The Congo Free State, also known as the Independent State of the Congo (french: État indépendant du Congo), was a large state and absolute monarchy in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908. It was privately owned by and in a personal union with Leopo ...
from 1885 to 1908. Born in
Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=no, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; nl, link=no, Brusse ...

Brussels
as the second but eldest surviving son of
Leopold ILeopold I may refer to: *Leopold I, Margrave of Austria (d. 994), first Margrave of Austria *Leopold I, Duke of Austria (1290–1326), co-Duke of Austria and Styria with Frederick I *Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor (1640–1705), Holy Roman Emperor, K ...

Leopold I
and
Louise of Orléans ''Louise'' Marie Thérèse Charlotte Isabelle of Orléans (Louise-Marie Thérèse Charlotte Isabelle; 3 April 1812 – 11 October 1850) was the first Queen of the Belgians as the second wife of King Leopold I. She rarely participated in publ ...

Louise of Orléans
, he succeeded his father to the Belgian throne in 1865 and reigned for exactly 44 years until his death—the longest reign of any Belgian monarch. He died without surviving legitimate sons. The current Belgian king descends from his nephew and successor,
Albert I
Albert I
. Leopold was the founder and sole owner of the
Congo Free State The Congo Free State, also known as the Independent State of the Congo (french: État indépendant du Congo), was a large state and absolute monarchy in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908. It was privately owned by and in a personal union with Leopo ...
, a private project undertaken on his own behalf as a
personal union A personal union is the combination of two or more states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The Stat ...

personal union
with Belgium. He used
Henry Morton Stanley Sir Henry Morton Stanley (born John Rowlands; 28 January 1841 – 10 May 1904) was a Welsh-American journalist, explorer, soldier, colonial administrator, author and politician who was famous for his exploration of central Africa and his sea ...

Henry Morton Stanley
to help him lay claim to the Congo, the present-day
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (frenc ...

Democratic Republic of the Congo
. At the
Berlin Conference The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, also known as the Congo Conference (german: Kongokonferenz) or West Africa Conference (), regulated European colonization and trade in Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most pop ...
of 1884–1885, the colonial nations of Europe authorized his claim by committing the Congo Free State to improving the lives of the native inhabitants. Leopold ignored these conditions and ran the Congo using the mercenary
Force Publique The ''Force Publique'' (, "Public Force"; nl, Openbare Weermacht) was a gendarmerie Wrong info! --> A vedette of the French Maritime Gendarmerie, ''Gendarmerie Maritime'' in La Rochelle harbour A gendarmerie () is a military force ...
for his personal gain. He extracted a fortune from the territory, initially by the collection of
ivory Ivory is a hard, white material from the tusk Tusks are elongated, continuously growing front teeth A tooth (plural teeth) is a hard, calcification, calcified structure found in the jaws (or mouths) of many vertebrates and used to Masticat ...
, and after a rise in the price of
natural rubber Rubber, also called India rubber, latex, Amazonian rubber, ''caucho'', or ''caoutchouc'', as initially produced, consists of polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', "many" + ''wikt:-mer, -mer'', "part") is a Chemical substance, ...

natural rubber
in the 1890s, by
forced labour Unfree labour, or forced labour, is any work relation, especially in modern or early modern history, in which people are employed against their will with the threat of destitution, detention, violence including death, compulsion, or other ...
from the native population to harvest and process rubber. Leopold's administration of the Congo Free State was characterised by atrocities and systematic brutality, including torture, murder, and the amputation of the hands of men, women, and children when the quota of rubber was not met. In 1890,
George Washington Williams George Washington Williams (October 16, 1849 – August 2, 1891) was an American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fough ...
used the term "
crimes against humanity Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are purposefully committed as part of a widespread or systematic policy, directed against civilians, in times of war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A g ...
" to describe the practices of Leopold II of Belgium's administration of the Congo Free State. Colonial accounts typically emphasized Leopold's modernizing changes in the Congo and not the mass death he facilitated. These and other facts were established at the time by eyewitness testimony, on-site inspection by an international commission of inquiry, and the 1904
Casement Report The Casement Report was a 1904 document written by Roger Casement (1864–1916)—a diplomat and Irish independence fighter—detailing abuses in the Congo Free State which was under the private ownership of King Leopold II of Belgium. This report ...
. Modern estimates range from 1 million to 15 million
Congolese
Congolese
deaths, with a consensus growing around 10 million. Some historians argue against these figures, citing the lack of reliable censuses, the enormous mortality caused by
smallpox Smallpox was an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the infectious ...

smallpox
and African trypanosomiasis, and the fact that there were only 175 administrative agents in charge of rubber exploitation. In 1908, the reports of deaths and abuse and pressure from the
Congo Reform Association The Congo Reform Association (CRA) was a political and humanitarian Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life, whereby human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characte ...
and other international groups induced the Belgian government to take over the administration of the Congo from Leopold as a new territory,
Belgian Congo The Belgian Congo (french: link=no, Congo belge, ; nl, Belgisch-Congo) was a Belgian colony in Central Africa Central Africa is a subregion of the Africa, African continent comprising various countries according to different definitions ...

Belgian Congo
.


Early life

Leopold was born in
Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=no, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; nl, link=no, Brusse ...

Brussels
on 9 April 1835, the second child of the reigning Belgian monarch,
Leopold ILeopold I may refer to: *Leopold I, Margrave of Austria (d. 994), first Margrave of Austria *Leopold I, Duke of Austria (1290–1326), co-Duke of Austria and Styria with Frederick I *Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor (1640–1705), Holy Roman Emperor, K ...

Leopold I
, and of his second wife, , the daughter of of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
. The
French Revolution of 1848 The 1848 Revolution in the History of France, also known as the February Revolution (''révolution de février''), was the series of revolutionary events that ended the July Monarchy (1830–1848) and led to the creation of the French Secon ...
forced his maternal grandfather Louis Philippe to flee to the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
. His sister Charlotte became Empress
Carlota of Mexico Charlotte of Belgium (7 June 1840 – 19 January 1927) was a Belgian princess Princess is a regal rank and the feminine equivalent of prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a ...

Carlota of Mexico
in the 1860’s. The British monarch,
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
, was Leopold II's first cousin, as Leopold's father and Victoria's mother were siblings. Louis Philippe died two years later, in 1850. Leopold's fragile mother was deeply affected by the death of her father, and her health deteriorated. She died of
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the in ...

tuberculosis
that same year, when Leopold was 15 years old.


Marriage and family

At the age of 18, Leopold married
Marie Henriette of Austria Archduchess Marie Henriette of Austria (Marie Henriette Anne; 23 August 1836 – 19 September 1902) was Queen of the Belgians as the wife of King Leopold II. The marriage was arranged against the will of both Marie Henriette and Leopold and bec ...
, a cousin of Emperor
Franz Joseph I of Austria Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I (german: Franz Josef Karl, hu, Ferenc József Károly, hr, Franjo Josip Karlo, cs, František Josef Karel, 18 August 1830 – 21 November 1916) was , , and , , and the of from 2 December 1848 until his death ...

Franz Joseph I of Austria
and granddaughter of the late Holy Roman Emperor , on 22 August 1853 in Brussels. Lively and energetic, Marie Henriette endeared herself to the people by her character and benevolence. Her beauty earned her the
sobriquet A sobriquet ( ), or soubriquet, is a nickname A nickname (also moniker) is a substitute for the proper name of a familiar person, place or thing. Commonly used to express affection, a form of endearment, and sometimes amusement, it can also be u ...
"The Rose of Brabant". She was also an accomplished artist and musician. She was passionate about
horseback riding Equestrian tour on traditional local breed, Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland">Skaftafell.html" ;"title="Icelandic horses in Skaftafell">Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland Equestrianism (from Latin , , , 'h ...

horseback riding
, to the point that she would care for her horses personally. Some joked about this "marriage of a stableman and a
nun A nun is a woman who vows to dedicate her life to religious service, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience The three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection in Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic rel ...

nun
", the latter referring to the shy and withdrawn Leopold. The marriage produced four children: three daughters and one son,
Prince Leopold, Duke of Brabant nl, Leopold Ferdinand Elias Viktor Albert Maria , birth_date = , birth_place = Royal Castle of Laeken The Palace of Laeken ( nl, Kasteel van Laken; french: Château de Laeken) is the official residence of the King of the Belgians ...
. The younger Leopold died in 1869 at the age of nine from
pneumonia Pneumonia is an inflammatory Inflammatory may refer to: * Inflammation, a biological response to harmful stimuli * The word ''inflammatory'' is also used to refer literally to fire and flammability, and figuratively in relation to comments t ...

pneumonia
after falling into a pond. His death was a source of great sorrow for King Leopold. The marriage became unhappy, and the couple separated after a last attempt to have another son, a union that resulted in the birth of their last daughter,
Clementine A clementine (''Citrus × clementina'') is a tangor, a citrus fruit hybrid between a willowleaf mandarin orange (Citrus × deliciosa, ''C.'' × ''deliciosa'') and a sweet orange (''C. × sinensis''), named in honor of Clément Rodier, a French ...

Clementine
. Marie Henriette retreated to
Spa A spa is a location where mineral-rich spring water (and sometimes seawater) is used to give medicinal baths. Spa towns or spa resorts (including hot springs resorts) typically offer various health treatments, which are also known as baln ...
in 1895, and died there in 1902. Leopold had many
mistress Mistress is the feminine form of the English word "master" (''master'' + ''-ess'') and may refer to: Romance and relationships * Mistress (lover) A mistress is a woman who is in a relatively long-term sexual and romantic relationship with a ...
es. In 1899, in his 65th year, Leopold took as a mistress
Caroline Lacroix Blanche Zélia Joséphine Delacroix, better known as Caroline Lacroix (13 May 1883 – 12 February 1948), was the most prominent and notorious of Leopold II of Belgium's mistresses. Delacroix, who was of French origin, met the king in Paris ...
, a 16-year-old French prostitute, and they remained together for the next decade until his death. Leopold lavished upon her large sums of money, estates, gifts, and a noble title, Baroness de Vaughan. Owing to these gifts and the unofficial nature of their relationship, Caroline became deeply unpopular among the Belgian people and internationally. She and Leopold married secretly in a religious ceremony five days before his death. Their failure to perform a
civil ceremonyA civil, or registrar, ceremony is a non-religious legal marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between th ...
rendered the marriage invalid under Belgian law. After the king's death, it soon emerged that he had left Caroline a large fortune, which the Belgian government and Leopold's three estranged daughters tried to seize as rightfully theirs. Caroline bore two sons, probably fathered by Leopold.


Early political career

As Leopold's older brother, the earlier crown prince
Louis Philippe Louis Philippe I (6 October 1773 – 26 August 1850) was King of the French from 1830 to 1848, the last King and penultimate monarch of France. As Duke of Chartres he distinguished himself commanding troops during the French Revolutionary Wa ...
, had died the year before Leopold's birth, Leopold was heir to the throne from his birth. When he was 9 years old, Leopold received the title of
Duke of Brabant The Duke of Brabant (, ) was formally the ruler of the Duchy of Brabant The Duchy of Brabant was a State State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departme ...
, and was appointed a sub-lieutenant in the army. He served in the army until his accession in 1865, by which time he had reached the rank of lieutenant-general. Leopold's public career began on his attaining the age of majority in 1855, when he became a member of the
Belgian Senate The Senate (Dutch language, Dutch: , french: Sénat, german: Senat) is one of the two chambers of the Bicameralism, bicameral Belgian Federal Parliament, Federal Parliament of Belgium, the other being the Chamber of Representatives (Belgium), Hous ...
. He took an active interest in the senate, especially in matters concerning the development of Belgium and its trade, and began to urge Belgium's acquisition of colonies. Leopold traveled abroad extensively from 1854 to 1865, visiting
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
,
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
, and the countries on the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...

Mediterranean
coast of
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
. His father died on 10 December 1865, and Leopold took the oath of office on 17 December, at the age of 30.


Domestic reign

Leopold became king in 1865. He explained his goal for his reign in an 1888 letter addressed to his brother,
Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders nl, Filips Eugeen Ferdinand Marie Clemens Boudewijn Leopold Joris , image = File:Conde de Flandes.jpg , caption = , spouse = Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, lat ...
: "the country must be strong, prosperous, therefore have colonies of her own, beautiful and calm." Leopold's reign was marked by a number of major political developments. The
Liberals Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
governed Belgium from 1857 to 1880, and during its final year in power legislated the Law of 1879. This law created free, secular, compulsory primary schools supported by the state and withdrew all state support from
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...
primary schools. The Catholic Party obtained a parliamentary majority in 1880, and four years later restored state support to Catholic schools. In 1885, various socialist and social democratic groups drew together and formed the
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
. Increasing social unrest and the rise of the Labour Party forced the adoption of universal male
suffrage Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote). In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to vote is called a ...

suffrage
in 1893. During Leopold's reign other social changes were enacted into law. Among these were the right of workers to form
labour union A trade union (or a labor union in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native ...
s and the abolition of the ''livret d'ouvrier'', an employment record book. Laws against child labour were passed. Children younger than 12 were not allowed to work in factories, children younger than 16 were not allowed to work at night, and women younger than 21 years old were not allowed to work underground. Workers gained the right to be compensated for workplace accidents and were given Sundays off. The first revision of the
Belgian constitution The Constitution of Belgium ( nl, Belgische Grondwet, french: Constitution belge, german: Verfassung Belgiens) dates back to 1831. Since then Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Be ...
came in 1893.
Universal male suffrage Universal manhood suffrage is a form of voting rights Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote Voting is a method ...
was introduced, though the effect of this was tempered by
plural votingPlural voting is the practice whereby one person might be able to vote multiple times in an election. It is not to be confused with a plurality voting system which does not necessarily involve plural voting. Weighted voting is a generalisation of plu ...
. The eligibility requirements for the senate were reduced, and elections would be based on a system of
proportional representation#REDIRECT Proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical, and to ideolog ...

proportional representation
, which continues to this day. Leopold pushed strongly to enable a royal referendum, whereby the king would have the power to consult the electorate directly on an issue, and use his
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relatio ...
according to the results of the referendum. The proposal was rejected, as it would have given the king the power to override the elected
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...

government
. Leopold was so disappointed that he considered
abdication Abdication is the act of formally relinquishing monarchical A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political legitimacy and ...
. Leopold emphasized military defence as the basis of neutrality, and strove to make Belgium less vulnerable militarily. He achieved the construction of defensive fortresses at Liège, at Namur and at Antwerp. During the
Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War,, german: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire The Second French Empire (; officially the French Empire ...
, he managed to preserve Belgium's neutrality in a period of unusual difficulty and danger. Leopold pushed for a reform in military service, but he was unable to obtain one until he was on his deathbed. The Belgian army was a combination of volunteers and a lottery, and it was possible for men to pay for substitutes for service. This was replaced by a system in which one son in every family would have to serve in the military.


Builder King

Leopold commissioned a great number of buildings, urban projects and public works, largely with the profits generated from exploitation of natural resources and the population of the
Congo Congo may refer to either of two countries that border the Congo River The Congo River ( kg, Nzâdi Kôngo, french: Fleuve Congo, pt, Rio Congo), formerly also known as the Zaire River, is the second longest river in Africa Africa ...
. These projects earned him the epithet of "Builder King" ( nl, Koning-Bouwheer, link=no, french: Roi-Bâtisseur, link=no). The public buildings were mainly in
Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=no, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; nl, link=no, Brusse ...

Brussels
,
Ostend Ostend ( nl, Oostende, ; french: link=no, Ostende ; german: link=no, Ostende ; vls, Ostende) is a coastal city and municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitAr ...
and
Antwerp Antwerp (; nl, Antwerpen ; french: Anvers ) is a city in Belgium and the capital of Antwerp (province), Antwerp province in the Flemish Region. With a population of 520,504,
Antwerp
, and include the
Hippodrome Wellington The Hippodrome Wellington (also ''Wellingtonrenbaan'') is a horse racing Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockey A jockey is someone who rides horses in horse racing or ...
racetrack, the Royal Galleries and Maria Hendrikapark in
Ostend Ostend ( nl, Oostende, ; french: link=no, Ostende ; german: link=no, Ostende ; vls, Ostende) is a coastal city and municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitAr ...
; the
Royal Museum for Central Africa The Royal Museum for Central Africa or RMCA ( nl, Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika or KMMA; french: Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale or MRAC; german: Königliches Museum für Zentralafrika or KMZA), also officially known as the AfricaMuseum, ...

Royal Museum for Central Africa
and its surrounding park in
Tervuren Tervuren (; ) is a Municipalities of Belgium, municipality in the province of Flemish Brabant, in Flanders, Belgium. The municipality comprises the villages of Duisburg, Tervuren, Duisburg, Tervuren, Vossem, Belgium, Vossem and Moorsel, Flemish Br ...

Tervuren
; the , memorial arcade and complex, and the Duden Park in Brussels, and the 1895–1905
Antwerpen-Centraal railway station Antwerpen-Centraal ( en, Antwerp Central; french: Gare d'Anvers-Centrale) is the main train station in the Belgium, Belgian city of Antwerp. The station is operated by the National Railway Company of Belgium (NMBS). History and architecture ...
. The majority of the required funds for these projects originated from the brutal exploitation of the
Congo Free State The Congo Free State, also known as the Independent State of the Congo (french: État indépendant du Congo), was a large state and absolute monarchy in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908. It was privately owned by and in a personal union with Leopo ...
. In addition to his public works, he acquired and built numerous private properties for himself inside and outside Belgium. He expanded the grounds of the
Royal Castle of Laeken The Palace of Laeken ( nl, Kasteel van Laken; french: Château de Laeken) is the official residence of the King of the Belgians The Monarchy of Belgium is a Constitutional monarchy, constitutional, Inheritance, hereditary, and popular mona ...
, and built the Royal Greenhouses, as well as the Japanese Tower and the Chinese Pavilion near the palace (now the Museums of the Far East). In the
Ardennes The Ardennes ( ; french: Ardenne ; nl, Ardennen ; german: Ardennen; wa, Årdene ; lb, Ardennen ), also known as the Ardennes Forest or Forest of Ardennes, is a region of extensive forest A forest is an area of land dominated b ...

Ardennes
, his domains consisted of of forests and agricultural lands and the of Ardenne, Ciergnon, Fenffe, Villers-sur-Lesse and Ferage. He also built important
country estate A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...
s on the
French Riviera The French Riviera (known in French as the ; oc, Còsta d'Azur ; literal translation " Azure Coast") is the Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost c ...

French Riviera
, including the '' Villa des Cèdres'' and its
botanical garden A botanical garden or botanic gardenThe terms ''botanic'' and ''botanical'' and ''garden'' or ''gardens'' are used more-or-less interchangeably, although the word ''botanic'' is generally reserved for the earlier, more traditional gardens. is ...

botanical garden
, and the Villa Leopolda. Thinking of the future after his death, Leopold did not want the collection of estates, lands and heritage buildings he had privately amassed to be scattered among his daughters, each of whom was married to a foreign prince. In 1900, he created the Royal Trust, by means of which he donated most of his property to the Belgian nation. This preserved them to beautify Belgium in perpetuity, while still allowing future generations of the Belgian royal family the privilege of their use.


Attempted assassination

On 15 November 1902, Italian
anarchist Anarchism is a political philosophy and Political movement, movement that is sceptical of authority and rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy. Anarchism calls for the abolition of the State (polity), state, which it holds to ...

anarchist
Gennaro Rubino attempted to
assassinate Assassination is the act of deliberately killing a prominent or important person, such as heads of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of state ...
Leopold, who was riding in a royal cortege from a ceremony at Saint-Gudule Cathedral in memory of his recently deceased wife, Marie Henriette of Austria, Marie Henriette. After Leopold's carriage passed, Rubino fired three shots at the procession. The shots missed Leopold but almost killed the king's Grand Marshall, Count Charles John d'Oultremont. Rubino was immediately arrested and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in prison in 1918. The king replied after the attack to a senator: "My dear senator, if fate wants me shot, too bad!" ("Mon cher Sénateur, si la fatalité veut que je sois atteint, tant pis"!) After the failed regicide the security of the king was questioned, because the glass of the Landau (carriage), landaus was 2 cm thick. Elsewhere in Europe, the news of this assassination attempt was received with alarm. Heads of state and the pope sent telegrams to the king congratulating him for surviving the assassination attempt. The Belgians rejoiced that the king was safe. Later in the day, in the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie before ''Tristan und Isolde'' was performed, the orchestra played the Brabançonne, which was sung loudly and ended with loud cheers and applause.


Congo Free State

Leopold was the founder and sole owner of the
Congo Free State The Congo Free State, also known as the Independent State of the Congo (french: État indépendant du Congo), was a large state and absolute monarchy in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908. It was privately owned by and in a personal union with Leopo ...
, a private project undertaken on his own behalf. He used explorer
Henry Morton Stanley Sir Henry Morton Stanley (born John Rowlands; 28 January 1841 – 10 May 1904) was a Welsh-American journalist, explorer, soldier, colonial administrator, author and politician who was famous for his exploration of central Africa and his sea ...

Henry Morton Stanley
to help him lay claim to the Congo, an area now known as the
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (frenc ...

Democratic Republic of the Congo
. At the
Berlin Conference The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, also known as the Congo Conference (german: Kongokonferenz) or West Africa Conference (), regulated European colonization and trade in Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most pop ...
of 1884–1885, the colonial nations of Europe authorised his claim by committing the Congo Free State to improving the lives of the native inhabitants. From the beginning, Leopold ignored these conditions. Millions of Congolese inhabitants, including children, were mutilated, killed or died from disease during his rule. He ran the Congo using the mercenary
Force Publique The ''Force Publique'' (, "Public Force"; nl, Openbare Weermacht) was a gendarmerie Wrong info! --> A vedette of the French Maritime Gendarmerie, ''Gendarmerie Maritime'' in La Rochelle harbour A gendarmerie () is a military force ...
for his personal enrichment. Failure to meet rubber collection quotas was punishable by death. Meanwhile, the Force Publique were required to provide the hand of their victims as proof when they had shot and killed someone, as it was believed that they would otherwise use the munitions (imported from Europe at considerable cost) for hunting. As a consequence, the rubber quotas were in part paid off in chopped-off hands. Leopold extracted a fortune from the Congo, initially by the collection of
ivory Ivory is a hard, white material from the tusk Tusks are elongated, continuously growing front teeth A tooth (plural teeth) is a hard, calcification, calcified structure found in the jaws (or mouths) of many vertebrates and used to Masticat ...
, and after a rise in the price of rubber in the 1890s, by forced labour from the natives to harvest and process rubber. Under his regime millions of Congolese people died. Modern estimates range from one million to fifteen million, with a consensus growing around 10 million. Several historians argue against this figure due to the absence of reliable censuses, the enormous mortality of diseases such as
smallpox Smallpox was an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the infectious ...

smallpox
or African trypanosomiasis, sleeping sickness and the fact that there were only 175 administrative agents in charge of rubber exploitation. Reports of deaths and abuse led to a major international scandal in the early 20th century, and Leopold was forced by the Belgian government to relinquish control of the colony to the civil administration in 1908.


Obtaining the Congo Free State

Leopold fervently believed that overseas colonies were the key to a country's greatness, and he worked tirelessly to acquire colonial territory for Belgium. He envisioned "our little Belgium" as the capital of a large overseas empire. Leopold eventually began to acquire a colony as a private citizen. The Belgian government lent him money for this venture. During his reign, Leopold saw the empires of the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain as being in a state of decline and expressed interest in buying their territories. In 1866, Leopold instructed the Belgian ambassador in Madrid to speak to Queen Isabella II of Spain about ceding the Philippines to Belgium. Knowing the situation fully, the ambassador did nothing. Leopold quickly replaced the ambassador with a more sympathetic individual to carry out his plan. In 1868, when Isabella II was deposed as queen of Spain, Leopold tried to press his original plan to acquire the Philippines. But without funds, he was unsuccessful. Leopold then devised another unsuccessful plan to establish the Philippines as an independent state, which could then be ruled by a Belgian. When both of these plans failed, Leopold shifted his aspirations of colonisation to Africa. After numerous unsuccessful schemes to acquire colonies in Africa and Asia, in 1876 Leopold organized a private holding company disguised as an international scientific and philanthropic association, which he called the Association Internationale Africaine, International African Society, or the International Association for the Exploration and Civilization of the Congo. In 1878, under the auspices of the holding company, he hired explorer Henry Morton Stanley, Henry Stanley to explore and establish a colony in the Kingdom of Kongo, Congo region. Much diplomatic maneuvering among European nations resulted in the
Berlin Conference The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, also known as the Congo Conference (german: Kongokonferenz) or West Africa Conference (), regulated European colonization and trade in Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most pop ...
of 1884–1885 regarding African affairs, at which representatives of 14 European countries and the United States recognized Leopold as sovereign of most of the area to which he and Stanley had laid claim. On 5 February 1885, the
Congo Free State The Congo Free State, also known as the Independent State of the Congo (french: État indépendant du Congo), was a large state and absolute monarchy in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908. It was privately owned by and in a personal union with Leopo ...
, an area 76 times larger than Belgium, was established under Leopold II's personal rule and private army, the ''
Force Publique The ''Force Publique'' (, "Public Force"; nl, Openbare Weermacht) was a gendarmerie Wrong info! --> A vedette of the French Maritime Gendarmerie, ''Gendarmerie Maritime'' in La Rochelle harbour A gendarmerie () is a military force ...
''.


Lado Enclave

In 1894, King Leopold signed a treaty with Great Britain which conceded a strip of land on the Congo Free State's eastern border in exchange for the Lado Enclave, which provided access to the navigable Nile and extended the Free State's sphere of influence northwards into Sudan. After rubber profits soared in 1895, Leopold ordered the organization of an expedition into the Lado Enclave, which had been overrun by Mahdist Sudan, Mahdist rebels since the outbreak of the Mahdist War in 1881. The expedition was composed of two columns: the first, under Belgian war hero Francis Dhanis, Baron Dhanis, consisted of a sizable force, numbering around 3,000, and was to strike north through the jungle and attack the rebels at their base at Rejaf. The second, a much smaller force of 800, was led by Louis-Napoléon Chaltin and took the main road towards Rejaf. Both expeditions set out in December 1896. Although Leopold had initially planned for the expedition to carry on much farther than the Lado Enclave, hoping indeed to take Fashoda and then Khartoum, Dhanis' column mutinied in February 1897, resulting in the death of several Belgian officers and the loss of his entire force. Nonetheless, Chaltin continued his advance, and on 17 February 1897, his outnumbered forces defeated the rebels in the Battle of Rejaf, securing the Lado Enclave as a Belgian territory until Leopold's death in 1909.


Exploitation, atrocities, and death toll

Leopold amassed a huge personal fortune by exploiting the natural resources of the Congo. At first, ivory was exported, but this did not yield the expected levels of revenue. When the global demand for rubber exploded, attention shifted to the labor-intensive collection of sap from rubber plants. Abandoning the promises of the
Berlin Conference The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, also known as the Congo Conference (german: Kongokonferenz) or West Africa Conference (), regulated European colonization and trade in Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most pop ...
in the late 1890s, the Free State government restricted foreign access and extorted forced labor from the natives. Abuses, especially in the rubber industry, included forced labour of the native population, beatings, widespread killings, and frequent mutilation when production quotas were not met. Missionary John Hobbis Harris, John Harris of Baringa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Baringa was so shocked by what he had encountered that he wrote to Leopold's chief agent in the Congo, saying:
I have just returned from a journey inland to the village of Insongo Mboyo. The abject misery and utter abandon is positively indescribable. I was so moved, Your Excellency, by the people's stories that I took the liberty of promising them that in future you will only kill them for crimes they commit.
Estimates of the death toll range from one million to fifteen million, since accurate records were not kept. Historians Louis and Stengers in 1968 stated that population figures at the start of Leopold's control are only "wild guesses", and that attempts by E. D. Morel and others to determine a figure for the loss of population were "but figments of the imagination". Adam Hochschild devotes a chapter of his book ''King Leopold's Ghost'' to the problem of estimating the death toll. He cites several recent lines of investigation, by anthropologist Jan Vansina and others, that examine local sources (police records, religious records, oral traditions, genealogies, personal diaries, and "many others"), which generally agree with the assessment of the 1919 Belgian government commission: roughly half the population perished during the Free State period. Hochschild points out that since the first official census by the Belgian authorities in 1924 put the population at about 10 million, these various approaches suggest a rough estimate of a population decline by 10 million. Smallpox epidemics and sleeping sickness also devastated the disrupted population. By 1896, African trypanosomiasis had killed up to 5,000 Africans in the village of Lukolela on the Congo River. The mortality statistics were collected through the efforts of British consul Roger Casement, who found, for example, only 600 survivors of the disease in Lukolela in 1903.


Criticism of the management of Congo

Inspired by works such as Joseph Conrad’s ''Heart of Darkness'' (1902), originally published as a three-part series in ''Blackwood’s Magazine'' (1899) and based on Conrad's experience as a steamer captain on the Congo 12 years earlier, international criticism of Leopold’s rule increased and mobilized. Reports of outrageous exploitation and widespread human rights abuses led the British Crown to appoint their consul Roger Casement to investigate conditions there. His extensive travels and interviews in the region resulted in the
Casement Report The Casement Report was a 1904 document written by Roger Casement (1864–1916)—a diplomat and Irish independence fighter—detailing abuses in the Congo Free State which was under the private ownership of King Leopold II of Belgium. This report ...
, which detailed the extensive abuses under Leopold's regime. A The Congo Free State Propaganda War, widespread war of words ensued. In Britain, former shipping clerk E. D. Morel with Casement's support founded the
Congo Reform Association The Congo Reform Association (CRA) was a political and humanitarian Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life, whereby human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characte ...
, the first mass human rights movement. Supporters included American writer Mark Twain, whose stinging political satire entitled ''King Leopold's Soliloquy'' portrays the king arguing that bringing Christianity to the country outweighs a little starvation, and uses many of Leopold's own words against him. Writer Arthur Conan Doyle also criticised the "rubber regime" in his 1908 work ''The Crime of the Congo'', written to aid the work of the Congo Reform Association. Doyle contrasted Leopold's rule with Colonial Nigeria, British rule in Nigeria, arguing that decency required those who ruled primitive peoples to be concerned first with their uplift, not how much could be extracted from them. As Hochschild describes in ''King Leopold's Ghost'', many of Leopold's policies, in particular those of colonial monopolies and forced labour, were influenced by Dutch practice in the East Indies. Similar methods of forced labour were employed to some degree by Germany, France, and Portugal where natural rubber occurred in their own colonies.


Relinquishment of the Congo

International opposition and criticism from the Catholic Party, Progressive Party (Belgium), Progressive Liberals and the
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
caused the Belgian Federal Parliament, Belgian parliament to compel the king to cede the Congo Free State to Belgium in 1908. The deal that led to the handover cost Belgium the considerable sum of 215.5 million Francs. This was used to discharge the debt of the Congo Free State and to pay out its bond holders as well as 45.5 million for Leopold's pet building projects in Belgium and a personal payment of 50 million to him. The Congo Free State was transformed into a Belgian colony known as the
Belgian Congo The Belgian Congo (french: link=no, Congo belge, ; nl, Belgisch-Congo) was a Belgian colony in Central Africa Central Africa is a subregion of the Africa, African continent comprising various countries according to different definitions ...

Belgian Congo
under parliamentary control. Leopold went to great lengths to conceal potential evidence of wrongdoing during his time as ruler of his private colony. The entire archive of the Congo Free State was burned and he told his aide that even though the Congo had been taken from him, "they have no right to know what I did there". The Congo was given independence in 1960.


Death and legacy

On 17 December 1909, Leopold II died at
Laeken Laeken () or Laken () is a residential suburb in the north-western part of the Brussels-Capital Region Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the Eng ...
, and the Belgian crown passed to , the son of Leopold's brother, Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, Philippe, Count of Flanders. His funeral cortege was booed by the crowd in expression of disapproval of his rule of the Congo. Leopold's reign of exactly 44 years remains the longest in Belgian history. He was interred in the royal vault at the
Church of Our Lady of Laeken nl, Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk van Laken , native_name_lang = , image = Bxl, Eglise Notre-Dame de Laeken-2.jpg , imagesize = 220px , imagelink = , imagealt = , caption ...

Church of Our Lady of Laeken
. Attention to the Congo atrocities subsided in the years after Leopold's death. List of statues of Leopold II of Belgium, Statues of him were erected in the 1930s at the initiative of Albert I, while the Belgian government celebrated his accomplishments in Belgium. The debate over Leopold's legacy was reignited in 1999 with the publication of ''King Leopold's Ghost'' by American historian Adam Hochschild, which recounts Leopold's plan to acquire the colony, the exploitation, and the large death toll. The debate then periodically resurfaced over the following 20 years. In 2010, Louis Michel, a Belgian member of the European Parliament and former Belgian foreign minister, called Leopold II a "visionary hero." According to Michel, "To use the word 'genocide' in relation to the Congo is absolutely unacceptable and inappropriate. ... maybe colonisation was domineering and acquiring more power, but at a certain moment, it brought civilisation." Michel's remarks were countered by several Belgian politicians. Senator Pol Van Den Driessche replied, "[A] great visionary? Absolutely not. What happened then was shameful. If we measured him against 21st century standards, it is likely that Leopold would be hauled before the International Criminal Court in The Hague." In June 2020, a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Brussels protested the murder of George Floyd, causing Leopold II's legacy to become once again the subject of debate. MPs agreed to set up a parliamentary commission to examine Belgium's colonial past, a step likened to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee set up in South Africa after the apartheid regime was abolished. On 30 June, the 60th anniversary of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (frenc ...

Democratic Republic of the Congo
's independence, Philippe of Belgium, King Philippe released a statement expressing his "deepest regret" for the wounds of the colonial past, and the "acts of violence and cruelty committed" in the Congo during colonisation but did not explicitly mention Leopold's role in the atrocities. Some activists accused him of not making a full apology.


Statues

Leopold II remains a controversial figure in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (frenc ...

Democratic Republic of the Congo
. In the capital Kinshasa (known until 1966 as Leopoldville in his honor) his statue was removed after independence. Congolese culture minister Christophe Muzungu decided to reinstate the statue in 2005. He noted that the beginning of the Free State had been a time of some economic and social progress. He argued that people should recognize some positive aspects of the king as well as the negative, but hours after the six-metre (20ft) statue was installed near Kinshasa's central station, it was officially removed. Several statues have been erected to honour the legacy of Leopold II in Belgium. According to Professor of Colonial History Idesbald Goddeeris of KU Leuven, Leuven University (2018), most of the statues date from the interwar period, the peak of colonial-patriotic propaganda. The monuments were supposed to help get rid of the scandal after international commotion about the atrocities in the Congo Free State during Leopold II's rule, and to raise people's enthusiasm for the colonial enterprise in
Belgian Congo The Belgian Congo (french: link=no, Congo belge, ; nl, Belgisch-Congo) was a Belgian colony in Central Africa Central Africa is a subregion of the Africa, African continent comprising various countries according to different definitions ...

Belgian Congo
. Leopold's controversial regime in the Congo Free State has motivated proposals for these statues to be removed. During the international George Floyd protests against racism (May – July 2020), several statues of Leopold II were vandalised, and petitions calling for the removal of some or all statues were signed by tens of thousands of Belgians. Other petitions, also signed by tens of thousands, called for the statues to remain. In early June 2020, a majority in the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region, Brussels Parliament requested a committee to be set up to 'decolonise the public sphere' in the Brussels Capital Region. From 9 June 2020 onwards, authorities in Belgium gave way to public pressure and began removing some of the statues of Leopold, beginning with ones in Ekeren in the municipality of Antwerp and in the Warocqué Faculty of Economics and Management of the University of Mons on that day.


Family

Leopold's sister became the Charlotte of Belgium, Empress Carlota of Mexico. His first cousins included both Queen Victoria, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her husband Albert, Prince Consort, Prince Albert, as well as Fernando II of Portugal, King Fernando II of Portugal. He had four children with Queen Marie Henriette, of whom the youngest two have descendants living : * Princess Louise of Belgium, born in Brussels on 18 February 1858, and died at Wiesbaden on 1 March 1924. She married Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on 4 February 1875, they had two children and divorced on 15 January 1906. *
Prince Leopold, Duke of Brabant nl, Leopold Ferdinand Elias Viktor Albert Maria , birth_date = , birth_place = Royal Castle of Laeken The Palace of Laeken ( nl, Kasteel van Laken; french: Château de Laeken) is the official residence of the King of the Belgians ...
, Count of Hainaut (as eldest son of the heir apparent), later Duke of Brabant (as heir apparent), born at
Laeken Laeken () or Laken () is a residential suburb in the north-western part of the Brussels-Capital Region Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the Eng ...
on 12 June 1859, and died at Laeken on 22 January 1869, from pneumonia, after falling into a pond. * Princess Stéphanie of Belgium, born at Laeken on 21 May 1864, and died at the Archabbey of Pannonhalma in Győr-Moson-Sopron, Hungary, on 23 August 1945. She married (1) Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, the heir apparent to the throne of Austria-Hungary . In 1889, he died in a suicide pact with his mistress (lover), mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera, at the Mayerling Incident, Mayerling hunting lodge. Stéphanie's second husband was (2) Elemér Edmund Graf Lónyay de Nagy-Lónya et Vásáros-Namény (created, in 1917, Prince Lónyay de Nagy-Lónya et Vásáros-Namény). * Princess Clémentine of Belgium, born at Laeken on 30 July 1872, and died at Nice on 8 March 1955. She married Prince Victor, Prince Napoléon, Napoléon Victor Jérôme Frédéric Bonaparte (1862–1926), head of the House of Bonaparte, Bonaparte family. The current head of the Imperial family, Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoléon is a direct descendant of King Leopold II. Leopold also fathered two sons by
Caroline Lacroix Blanche Zélia Joséphine Delacroix, better known as Caroline Lacroix (13 May 1883 – 12 February 1948), was the most prominent and notorious of Leopold II of Belgium's mistresses. Delacroix, who was of French origin, met the king in Paris ...
. They were adopted in 1910 by Lacroix's second husband, Antoine Durrieux. Leopold granted them courtesy titles that were honorary, as the parliament would not have supported any official act or decree: * Lucien Philippe Marie Antoine (9 February 19061984), duke of Tervuren * Philippe Henri Marie François (16 October 190721 August 1914), count of Ravenstein


Ancestry


See also

* Abir Congo Company * Atrocities in the Congo Free State * Émile Banning * Congo Free State propaganda war * Crown Council of Belgium * Kings of Belgium family tree


References


Bibliography

* Neal Ascherson, Ascherson, Neal: ''The King Incorporated'', Allen & Unwin, 1963. (''1999 Granta edition''). * Theo Aronson, Aronson, Theo: ''Defiant Dynasty: The Coburgs of Belgium'', Bobbs-Merrill, 1968. * Barbara Emerson, Emerson, Barbara: ''Leopold II of the Belgians'', Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1979, . * Adam Hochschild, Hochschild, Adam: ''King Leopold's Ghost, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa'', Mariner Books, 1998. . * Petringa, Maria: ''Brazza, A Life for Africa'', 2006. * Wm. Roger Louis and Jean Stengers: ''E.D. Morel's History of the Congo Reform Movement'', Clarendon Press Oxford, 1968. * Ó Síocháin, Séamas and Michael O’Sullivan, eds: ''The Eyes of Another Race: Roger Casement's Congo Report and 1903 Diary''. University College Dublin Press, 2004. . * Ó Síocháin, Séamas: ''Roger Casement: Imperialist, Rebel, Revolutionary''. Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2008. * * Stanard, Matthew G. ''Selling the Congo: A history of European pro-empire propaganda and the making of Belgian imperialism'' (U of Nebraska Press, 2012) * Vanthemsche, Guy (2012). ''Belgium and the Congo, 1885–1980'' (Cambridge UP, ). * Vanthemsche, Guy (2006) 'The historiography of Belgian colonialism in the Congo" in C Levai ed., ''Europe and the World in European Historiography'' (Pisa University Press), pp. 89–119
online
* Viaene, Vincent. "King Leopold's imperialism and the origins of the Belgian colonial party, 1860–1905." ''Journal of Modern History'' 80.4 (2008): 741–90.


External links

* *
Archive Léopold II
Royal museum of central Africa
Official biography from the Belgian Royal Family website


Interview with political scientist Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, with a discussion of Leopold halfway through

Publishers' Press, 1906


''Congo: White king, red rubber, black death''
A 2003 documentary by Peter Bate on Leopold II and the Congo
The Crime of the Congo, 1909, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Archive.org
* * * * * * * * , - {{DEFAULTSORT:Leopold 02 Of Belgium Leopold II of Belgium, 1835 births 1909 deaths 19th-century Belgian monarchs 20th-century Belgian monarchs Belgian monarchs Dukes of Brabant House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Belgium) Nobility from Brussels Congo Free State Burials at the Church of Our Lady of Laeken Grand Crosses of the Royal Order of the Lion Grand Crosses of the Order of the Crown (Belgium) Recipients of the Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold II Knights of the Golden Fleece of Austria Grand Crosses of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary Grand Croix of the Légion d'honneur Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus Bailiffs Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta Grand Crosses of the Order of Saint-Charles Recipients of the Order of the Netherlands Lion Grand Crosses of the Order of Christ (Portugal), 3 Grand Crosses of the Order of Aviz, 3 Grand Crosses of the Order of Saint James of the Sword, 3 Recipients of the Order of the White Eagle (Russia) Recipients of the Order of St. Anna, 1st class Recipients of the Order of the Cross of Takovo Extra Knights Companion of the Garter